Baskin (pronounced bah-skeen, not like the ice cream company), the new horror film from first-time feature-film director Can Evrenol, had its U.S. premiere this weekend as one of the Midnight Screenings at Fantastic Fest this weekend, and it satisfied every craving I had for a midnight movie. It is a visceral experience and one that I will not soon forget.The film centers around a group of Turkish policemen who are called to a remote house in a nearby town to assist some other members of the police force. They are not given a reason for the call, just that the policemen need assistance. Once they arrive at the house, they quickly realize that they have just entered through a portal into Hell.
Baskin takes its time to get going, but it’s never boring. The first half of the film slowly lets the audience get to know its main cast of characters. Evrenol doesn’t sugar-coat the policemen. Some are kind and some are douchebags but they all feel like real people. Evrenol takes his time, slowly building the tension with haunting imagery and some truly stunning effects for such a low budget film. The man knows how to direct, which is made all the more impressive when you know that it’s his first feature film (he has filmed a few short films, which he has also brought to Fantastic Fest in the past).
It probably isn’t until the 45-minute mark that the characters reach the abandoned building, but once they do shit really hits the fan. Evrenol’s version of Hell is like Silent Hill meets Hellraiser, and it’s glorious. The climax of the film features an extended ritual sequence that is sure to send chills down anyone’s spine.
My only real complaint with the film is that I think it could have gone further with its grotesquerie. This isn’t to say the film isn’t grotesque. There is a lot of incredibly disturbing imagery on display here. I just think I’ve been desensitized to violence so seeing someone be forced to have doggy-style sex with a naked woman who sports a bloody ram’s skull for a head doesn’t qualify as “going there” for me. Also, I wouldn’t have minded if Baskin’s final act had been about 15 minutes longer (the whole film runs 97 minutes but feels much shorter).
Baskin is everything I wanted As Above, So Below to be. It delivered on promises that that film did not. It’s not a perfect film, but for an experimental film from a first-time director, it’s incredibly strong and should be seen by a wide audience. It’s one of the best representations of Hell since Hellbound: Hellraiser II, and I loved every second of it.